The digital age has unlocked massive opportunities for creators. We are truly living in a remarkable period of creativity and innovation, where developers all around the world can create game-changing products and services. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur, working as a developer at a large corporation or in general at a service company, it is an exciting time to release products or services into the world.

When creating a new digital product or service, however, there are several best practices to follow. One of the most important centers on two words: digital empathy. Digital empathy is a relatively simple concept to understand, yet it can be difficult to pull off in practice. If you look at some of the most successful products, however, you will notice that digital empathy is at their core. Therefore, regardless of the product or service that you are creating, you should keep digital empathy at the top of mind. 

Your user or customer will thank you. 

The Importance of Digital Empathy

Digital empathy, if you aren’t yet aware, is the basic idea of using the core principles of empathy (like compassion, cognition, and emotion) in designing technology to enhance the user experience. User experience (“UX”) is the idea of designing products or services that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. To summarize this in another way, digital empathy is stepping into a user’s shoes, understanding what he or she is expecting out of your product or service, and designing the product or service to fulfill those expectations. Buying a product or service isn’t a ‘simple’ transaction anymore, it’s a journey, and experiences matter. Think about it, one bad experience, it remains in our brains basically forever and most likely you will not going to buy that product or service anymore.

Ultimately, digital empathy is all about communication. In addition, the simple fact of the matter is that communication over software (channel) is vastly different than face-to-face communication. Even if you think it is “obvious” for your user or customer to behave a certain way when using your product service, the digital nature of your product makes it less obvious

Digital empathy is a critical part of UX. Designing products or services that do not exhibit digital empathy creates frustration among your customers. They expect the product or service to work one way, but it works in a completely different way. Because there are so many high-quality products and services on the Internet today, this initial frustration may cause a user to quickly consider one of your competitors. Although the digital age is great for consumers, as it has never been easier to change providers with one swipe away, service providers have to ensure user experience is guaranteed 24*7 on all channels. By contrast, if you can successfully step into the shoes of your user and build a product or service for them, you will start to see positive metrics. User engagement will increase and you will likely see more target audience members using your product or service.

Clearly, digital empathy should be at the top of mind when designing any product or service. But how does this work in practice? Moreover, how can your organization work together to consistently deliver products or services that exemplify digital empathy?

While there are several solutions here, one of the most compelling is the eXperience Level Agreement (“XLA”). An XLA has been called “augmented reality for IT organizations and service providers.” It is mostly used in the B2B context and is essentially a ‘add-on’ for Service Level Agreements (“SLAs”). Instead of focusing on meeting irrelevant or made-up Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”) when delivering work for a client, XLAs help organizations focus on the inherent needs of their customers. It helps organizations “deliver IT services with the desired experience outcome in mind,” meaning that customers’ needs and wants are baked into the process from the beginning. 

While it may be somewhat fuzzy, an XLA can focus an organization on stepping into customers’ shoes and giving them what they truly want. In other words, it brings digital empathy to the surface and doesn’t let go. The stakes are high, and luckily, an XLA will point your organization in the right direction.

A Critical Part of the User Experience

Digital empathy is a critical part of designing products or services that customers love. It isn’t optional. It is a requirement. Ignoring digital empathy in your products or services places a massive obstacle to achieving your business goals. 

Whether you opt for an XLA or another method, think about ways that you can prioritize digital empathy in your organization. Bring your team together and brainstorm different methods or approaches. By investing your time into digital empathy, you will undoubtedly see positive results, both in terms of user satisfaction and profits in your digital transformations.

Please note, Xperience Level Agreement (XLA) is a registered mark of Giarte Media Group B.V.  used under permission of Giarte. All rights reserved.